It began as a simple idea – break down the barriers between society and those that they often look down upon.
For Mudgee’s Heath Gay, the founder of the Be Kind project and the Inkd Movement, it has become so much more.
“As someone with tattoos I’ve had a lot of people judge me before they have ever got to know me, so I wanted to turn that negativity into something positive,” Heath said of his movement.
“A lot of people don’t see past the fact that someone is homeless, so I want to break how society sees tattooed people by being a positive member of the community, and use that to help people who are living rough on the streets.
The plan was to walk from Newcastle to Sydney in a week and then spend the rest of the month in the city living with the homeless people, and Heath set about getting the backing of the tattoo industry.
He started on March 1 and as he walked he spread the word of what he was doing, especially at tattoo shops along the way that he had already recruited to the drive.
Heath pre-sold t-shirts for the drive as well, with all the profits from the printing and press of the shirts going to a soup kitchen in Kings Cross.
“I lived on the street until the 31st of March,” he said.
“I walked 35 kilometers one day and get absolutely sopping wet, to the extent that I tipped my bag up and water just came pouring out."
Heath had just a backpack of clothes that he had carried from Newcastle, and slept right on the ground after ditching his camping swag from the first leg of the journey.
He said that the most important thing that people should bring away from the awareness drive is that there are so many people on the streets that are fighting to return to society and are struggling.
“There are different degrees of homelessness, not every single person out there is a drug addict or something like that,” he said.
“There are good people out there that have just had a rough time and a lot of them just need the tools and support to try and build back into society.”
Now Heath’s attention turns to next year, when he plans on returning to the streets next March, and this time he hopes that others can experience the four weeks of homelessness that he did.
“I want to do it every year, and make it into a thing that people know about and can come together for,” he said.
If you want to read more about the Be Kind project, or Inkd Movement, head to Heath’s website, www.inkdevotion.com, to read his on-street blog or get more information about the plights of the homeless.